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Storytelling Key to Nursing Education

Sue Dyson, Professor of Nursing at Middlesex University, has called for a nursing education curriculum that pays better attention to students' life stories.

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Speaking in her inaugural lecture on 19 June, Sue highlighted the need for a new approach to the curriculum – one which puts students at its centre and incorporates their experiences.

Traditionally, nursing education has tended to be overly didactic and competency-based, creating a divide between the rhetoric and reality of the profession. "The theory-practice gap endures in nursing in spite of how many times we try to reform the curriculum," Sue stated. "There is often a disconnect between what nurses know and what they do."

Sue suggested taking a narrative pedagogy approach to nursing education which, she said, "is about highlighting the lived and shared experiences of students and teachers and how that might inform the curriculum." Students' and teachers' stories would create the basis of research that would inform the teaching programme, resulting in a co-created curriculum that reflects the real-life experience of nursing practice and its day-to-day difficulties.  

A dynamic education program where students are encouraged to share their practice experiences in a safe, non-judgmental space would help them to "develop a deeper understanding of the very complex situations they find themselves in, and to develop critical thinking skills so that they can tell the difference between good and not so good practice," Sue explained."The co-created curriculum recognises students' life histories, provides a legitimate space for sharing conversations, and recognises that every student will experience the curriculum in a different way. We want to enable our students to understand what is good enough and what should not be tolerated, and have a curriculum that will facilitate the kind of skills that will help students know the difference."

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